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Mitigating risks in prescribing and dispensing chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19

Sarah M. Hall (sarah.hall@thompsonhine.com) is Senior Counsel in the Washington, DC, Thompson Hine LLP office; Steven A. Block (steven.block@thompsonhine.com) is Partner in the Chicago office, and Jamar T. King (jamar.king@thompsonhine.com) is an Associate in the Dayton, Ohio, office.

During his March 19, 2020, press briefing,[1] President Donald Trump called chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine a “game changer” in the battle against COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that has caused a global pandemic. He went on to say, “It’s shown…very, very encouraging early results. And we’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately.” The next day on Twitter, he exclaimed that “it” [chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine] must “be put in use IMMEDIATELY.”[2]

Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are antiviral drugs that have been prescribed for decades. Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis, they have been brought to the forefront of public consciousness through the president’s statements and anecdotal evidence repeated on the internet that the drugs are effective in the battle against COVID-19. The public attention on these drugs during the COVID-19 crisis has created serious compliance risks for healthcare organizations and medical professionals that must be addressed.

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